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[Susan notes: I may well disagree with this teacher on how to teach reading to middle graders, but I certainly agree with her about standards based assessments, and I applaud her willingness to sign her name to a letter.]

Published in Chico Enterprise-Record
02/15/2006

To the editor

I get angry when I hear people parrot the mission of No Child Left Behind that 100 percent of children will be reading at grade level by 2014. Anyone who claims such a thing is possible is either ignorant or lying. One day in a regular or special education classroom is enough to determine that all the children in America will not be reading at grade level by 2014 or any other year. The law makes no exceptions for learning disabilities, mental illness or non-native speakers.



More than 50 percent of the students entering my fifth-grade classroom are reading at below grade level. They will not acquire this ability by being taught fifth-grade standards of inference and generalization. Rather, they need to be taught the basic skills of reading: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension.



I have been telling this to my administrators in every conceivable way besides skywriting since No Child



Left Behind hit. It is aggravating to be told that I must do more to teach and assess my students on state reading standards while my administrators show little interest in the real building blocks of reading. The teachers in my district are willing to do what it takes to help students become better readers. Instead we are dragged through a morass of meaningless "standards based assessments" that have no impact on improving basic reading skills.

Shelley Jensen


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